Why do we do it to ourselves? I’ve frankly heard enough about New Year’s resolutions; and to be brutal, they rarely work. Google it, and there are 100s of articles sharing tips on how to stick to them. So I ask again, why do we do it to ourselves?
Those promises to ‘hit the gym’, eat healthier, work less and put ourselves ‘out there’ more. I’ve said all of these things to myself, been given well intentioned advice by others and read all sorts of 💩on how I should live my best life. Yes to #motivation. No to feeling like a piece of crap because of unhelpful resolutions. So my mantra is 'fuck that' to it all 💅
Here I share the 4 shitty resolutions that I should have slapped away the moment they entered my head. Each one of them is toxic in their own way. Being gay and Indian was enough to deal with 🤦, without adding an extra serving of pressure to conform to a life that I wasn’t ready for, or had no intention of actually living.
☄This will be the year I come out! I remember (on more than one occasion) taking a silent breath once the clock struck 12 and promised myself that this would be the year everyone would know who I really was 🏳️🌈. The problem is that this is arbitrary and assumes that life can be scripted. That you’ll create the perfect moment to tell an imperfect truth, and then perfectly resolve the tensions it may bring (I’m thinking about family and culture here). I say bullshit. Unfortunately, a driver for this was my experience on the scene; white, cis gay men who made me feel that I was a fraud for not coming out (and in some cases not worth dating). There was no allowance for the cultural baggage 👜 I was also carrying. Coming out is an emotional process, meaning that like our emotions, we may have little control when it does happen and how events may unfold. I found it to be unpredictable, requiring both strength and vulnerability. And with my family, it required a delicate balance of sensitivity to my family’s concerns that were rooted in cultural expectations (‘What will others say?’) vs. remaining visible and not being erased, that I wouldn’t be swept under the carpet to alleviate their initial shame. So, timing is the least of our concerns; rather than tying it to a specific year or moment in time, be kind to yourself, build your strength and see how your #colourfull life unfolds. When the time is right (and if you feel able to), you’ll know.
👨❤️👨This will be the year I get a boy/girlfriend! And we will live happily ever after. I am all for meeting new people, having new experiences and understanding myself better - get out there and get to know your romantic/sexual self 😘. The problem is that this also lends itself to the idea that life can be scripted. When you feel like the world(s) you live in don’t accept you (both mainstream and gay), the desire to meet someone who will understand and love you for who you are is both intoxicating and validating. I found that I only ended up hurting myself. I became anxious and tried to rush into relationships, or I ended up with the wrong guys. Spoiler alert: this approach does not lead to a happy ending #thankunext. The importance of receiving affirmation can’t be underestimated in a relationship, but I found that making MY peace with the things I saw as my ‘flaws’ (my impatience, my love of pop music (I ❤️️Cheryl), my hairy legs, my disinterest in politics and for a time, not being out) was the biggest factor in becoming a better, loving partner. In the words of #RuPaul ‘IIf you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?’
🏋This will be the year I get ‘in shape’ (basically look like a cover model on Attitude)! I’ve always been slim, kinda hairy and definitely not white. Yet all the gay magazine covers (and let’s be frank, porn 😵) I saw showcased white, smooth, muscular men. I’m none of these things, so I’d set myself a target that was clearly unattainable. My high metabolism and ectomorph body type meant that gaining muscle mass was a dream or would involve a serious lifestyle change (i.e. living at the gym). This resolution was more insidious, in that it hollowed me in my quest to become something I’m not, and told me I was not good enough. Healthy eating and lifestyles get a thumbs up 👍; trying to become something you think you should be is toxic. So give that a miss and learn to love your bumps and lumps along the way! Plus I can’t imagine my life without pizza and aloo pronthe 😋
💼This will be the year I get a promotion! Now this is different to saying I will get a new job (which could also be a promotion), as the latter is within your control: you can leave a job, you can apply for jobs and hopefully secure a new one! Promotions are a little trickier, in that they depend on internal circumstances that are usually out of your control. Digging deeper, I knew where this was coming from, a complex mix of culture and sexuality. Indian parents place high importance on education and career achievement at an early age because they want us to succeed in a world that may be unkind to us. Plus my feeling of ‘I'm not good enough’ because I was gay meant I felt I had to compensate in some way. Succeeding at work would satisfy my parents, and help me overcome the shame inside that I wouldn’t live up to their ideal of a ‘good Indian boy’. I just wanted the world to know I was a successful, ‘normal’ guy despite my sexuality. So yes, be proactive and seek career progression, build your experiences, but before placing an expectation on yourself to achieve a promotion - ask yourself why, why now and are you ready? Side Tip: Never undervalue yourself, so if you’re in the right headspace and the time is right - initiate a conversation about your progression/promotion. Don’t be waitin
As we start a new year, I take a different approach today, and it centres around the premise that rather than finding ourselves, we need to return to ourselves. As a result, I try to practice 3 habits that work alongside the life I have rather than against it. In no way have I got this shit nailed, but I try my best 😁:
Understand your ‘flaws’ 🤔Break them down. Make your peace with them. Challenge them. Ask yourself why they are even considered flaws? These are often rooted in (mis)perceptions, rather than reality. And it can help shine a light on the unhelpful influences and voices in society that make us feel smaller. Work on the one thing that is most important to you. The more accepting you are of yourself, the more accepting you are of others. It really does flow through 💫
Communicate with an open heart ❤️️Make it your business to practice the habit of healthy communication in every walk of life and expressing yourself authentically. This doesn’t mean avoiding conflict, but be constructive and kind. You will get better at drawing boundaries for yourself and mastering the art of asking for what you do want. This has been one of the most powerful habits I’ve practiced: be that at work, with my family or in relationships.
Enjoy time alone, regularly 💆♂️I would often clutter my life with people, places and things to distract myself…….. from myself. I spent a long time running away from my innermost thoughts and putting up a pretence. I found that spending time alone was initially painful and is now revitalising. In short, taking myself on a date, spending time with my thoughts and pursuing my interests helped me be more courageous and confident, which in turn impacts on how you show up and care for yourself. It’s all good vibes.
These days, I have a better sense of self and my place in the world - and it has nothing to do with any resolutions. Ultimately, I want us to be in a great position for all the fun stuff, the bad stuff and the crazy stuff that life will inevitably throw at us. And ultimately for us to lead our most #colourfull lives 🌈, however we choose to define them.
What else would you recommend?
And bring on 2019!